September 4, 2015 By Patrick Jaiah Kamara
Fifty civil society organisations (CSOs) yesterday presented a position paper to the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) at the latter’s secretariat at Youyi building, Freetown.
Presenting the paper to the committee on behalf of the CSOs, head of Campaign for Good Governance, Valnora Edwin, noted that it was part of their mandate to contribute to reviewing the national constitution.
“We have a legitimate space to make our views known in the new constitution and we are doing it on behalf of our people. We are very pleased that Justice Cowan is here to receive us,” she said.
Giving a brief synopsis of the document, Executive Director of Center for Coordination of Youth Activities, Ngolo Katta, said the new constitution should recognise the existence of CSOs and their non-abolition by legislation, noting that the latter should at all times be free to uphold and contribute to the achievement of the fundamental objectives contained in the constitution and promote citizens participation, public education and respect for human rights, among others.
Katta explained that the new document should ensure that the activities of CSOs are based on principles and values of internal democracy, accountability, transparency, equality and non-discrimination, and that any governance mechanism for civil society shall be done by statute and based on and take account of values and the aforementioned principles.
CRC chairman, Justice Edmond Cowan, welcomed the presentation and said they were pleased to see people participating in the national work. He said for the constitution to be valued, it has to be owned by the people.
“As a committee we encourage people to come with their position papers because it is not our duty to review the constitution,” said Mr. Cowan. “We as a committee will not lose sight of inclusiveness because the constitution says the people are supreme; that is why we call on everybody to make input and we will try to see how best we can factor their views in the new constitution.”
He added that: “The constitution should be owned by the people because at the end of the day, we’ll call for referendum and people should not endorse what they did not say.”
The CRC was constituted with an 80-man membership in July, 2013 to review the Constitution of Sierra Leone Act No.6 of 1991 and has set 30 November, 2015 as final date for all submissions.